Most likely, Nesterov was trying to damage the enemy plane with his own landing gear. The two machines collided, became entangled and fell from the sky. Although both fliers were killed in the crash, the Russian aviator had in fact scored history’s first air combat kill. Britain’s first-ever air-to-air victory came later that same day, when two Avro 504 pilots used their aircraft to force a German Etrich Taube monoplane down into a field near Mons. The German pilot leapt from the cockpit and fled on foot into a nearby forest evading capture. On Oct. 5, a French pilot named Louis Quenault would become the first in history to actually shoot down another aircraft in mid air with a blast of gunfire.
Ever since these first clumsy encounters, seizing control of the skies has become just as important to military commanders as supremacy on the ground or dominance of the seas.
To mark the 100th anniversary of areal warfare, Andrew Deen of Norwich University’s military history department has provided MilitaryHistoryNow.com with this info graphic detailing history’s greatest and most impressive air battles.